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Culture & Society

100 Million Canadians

Could Canada's path to superpower status be a number's game?

Irvin Studin is convinced that he’s come up with a viable plan to make Canada a real and permanent world power. A professor at the School of Public Policy and Governance, Studin caused a stir last year when he suggested that Canada needs more people if it wants to play a bigger role in world affairs. With a population of 100 million or more, Studin ventured, Canada would become “a serious force to be reckoned with.”

Studin reasons that Canada could achieve true superpower status within a few generations if it tapped into a much larger talent pool of skilled immigrants that would strengthen and transform this nation’s traditionally weak strategic institutions, such as the military and the diplomatic and civil services. Eventually, the new arrivals would form a bulwark of change to help shape a new and ambitious foreign policy that matches our size and wealth of natural resources. Studin argues that this powerful combination of people, resources and territory would translate into greater prestige and influence overseas. “We need to imagine ourselves as a society that is growing in demographic weight and that begins to, over time, perceive our potential influence in international affairs.”

Studin acknowledges that there needs to be the political leadership and will to take his novel vision from paper into practice. He also concedes that a prolonged spike in immigration would create tension in Canada, particularly in parts of the country that lack a history of welcoming newcomers. As well, Studin says that the influx of so many new immigrants would be a burden on the public purse in the early days. But he is confident that these hurdles could be overcome and once that happens Canada will emerge as a consequential country of which the “world will take good note.”

Read Irvin Studin’s full proposal

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